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16 Retirement Gift Ideas

How do you thank someone for years of service when they retire? A retirement gift is a celebration of the things the retiree did for the company, but it can also celebrate the start of something new for the employee. Finding the perfect going-away gifts for those who are retiring isn’t always easy, but it shows that you appreciate their service. The best retirement gifts are meaningful or useful in some way. Explore various options and consider the employee’s personality when choosing.

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1. Relaxation gift basket

Retiring from work means saying goodbye to stress, schedules and other things that make it difficult to relax. Help your retiring employee adjust to the more relaxing way of life with a gift basket full of relaxing items. Here are some suggestions:

  • Bath bombs, bath salt or other bath products
  • Comfortable socks
  • Robe
  • Lotions
  • Candles
  • Essential oils and a diffuser
  • CD of relaxing music
  • Gift card to a spa
  • Hammock

Keep in mind that some people are sensitive to scents, so scented lotions and bath products could overwhelm them.

2. Personalized travel bag

If your employee’s retirement plans include travel, choose a travel bag with personalization stitched onto it. A leather carry-on bag is a high-quality option that looks nice when it’s presented and holds up well.

Pack a few other travel essentials or extras inside the bag, such as noise-canceling headphones, engraved luggage tags or a personalized passport holder. Every time they pack for a trip, they’ll remember you and their coworkers. A travel bag is a functional gift that the recipient can use over and over, which makes it a practical gift option.

3. Travel log

Another ideal gift for the retiree who plans to pack their bags and travel is a way to log those trips. One example is a scratch-off map. Your former employee can scratch off new states to keep track of the destinations.

Another idea is a travel journal or scrapbook. You can find specialty journals designed to track trips or choose a general journal with an attractive cover. This option lets the recipient log more details about their travels than the scratch-off map. Add a high-quality pen to round out the gift. If you create a travel scrapbook kit, include travel-themed stickers, scrapbook paper and other themed accessories.

4. Experience gift

Encourage your newly retired employee to start enjoying their free days immediately with experience gifts for the retired. Instead of offering a physical gift that might sit around collecting dust, give them an experience that they can enjoy and remember forever. Here are some suggestions:

  • Concert tickets
  • Sporting event tickets
  • Theater tickets
  • Weekend getaway
  • Membership to a museum or another attraction
  • Registration for a fun class
  • Winery or brewery tour

If the retiree is moving to another city or state immediately after retirement, choose experience gifts in that location. It can help them jump right into their new community and experience what it has to offer.

5. Monthly subscription box

Keep reminding your recently retired employee that you care with a monthly subscription box. They’re available in almost any theme, from gourmet food to hobbies. Give the retiree the first box at a retirement party or on their last day of work. Then, the subscription boxes will keep showing up for as long as the subscription lasts.

6. Gourmet gift

Gourmet food gifts never fail. Choose the recipient’s favorite foods if you know their preferences. Popular options are baked goods, cheeses and wine. Another idea is to create a gourmet gift basket with the most popular items from local businesses, such as cinnamon rolls from a local diner, a bottle of wine from a local vineyard or cupcakes from a local bakery.

7. Hobby item

Is the recipient planning to take on a new hobby or dive into something they already enjoy? Maybe they don’t know what they want to do with their free time but are interested in exploring the options.

Inspire creativity with a hobby-related gift. Tools or supplies that make hobbying more fun or accessible are sure to please. Other ideas include a guidebook, magazines related to the hobby or classes for the hobby.

If you know what hobbies the person enjoys, pick items that go along with it. If you’re not sure, try something that seems to fit their personality. Some ideas include tools for:

  • Gardening
  • Brewing beer
  • Hiking
  • Sewing
  • Golfing
  • Creating art
  • Cooking
  • Photography

8. Lasting workplace honor

Show the retiree that you won’t forget them by creating a tribute to them in the workplace. You might put a plaque on the wall, retire their desk or name a conference room after them. If the retiree wore a uniform for work, frame it and place it on the wall, similar to how athletes’ jerseys are displayed.

Include a standing invitation to all future work events as part of the gift. Then, keep the retiree in the loop when you do things like host a holiday office party, hit up happy hour as a team or throw the next retirement celebration.

9. Slideshow

If you have lots of photos and video clips of the employee in action, turn them into a slideshow, or request photos and videos from the retiree’s family members to add a personal touch. You can add text that shows the employee’s accomplishments, messages from team members and memories of the worker. Show the slideshow at the retirement party and send a copy to the retiree. You can also post the video on your social media pages.

10. Thank you letter

Put into words how much the retiree means to the company with a heartfelt thank you letter as part of the retirement gift. Focus on the contributions the employee made and the memories you have of them. Writing it down gives the employee something they can keep to remember what kind of an impression they made.

You can also have team members write letters or messages to the retiree. For a unique presentation, fold all the messages and place them inside a decorated jar. The retiree can take out and read a few messages at a time.

11. Work-Related Mementos

Employees dedicate their lives to their work, so commemorating that with a work-related item honors that commitment. You might have a bronzed display made of a tool the person used regularly for work, such as a wrench for a mechanic, or frame their uniform. If it’s a salesperson who’s retiring, gift them a map of their territory, or design a typography print of their sales records and achievements. For any career, create a framed collage of pictures from the job.

12. Retirement activities

The soon-to-be retiree will suddenly have a lot of spare time after the last day of work. Give them activity gifts that can provide entertainment. Some ideas include:

  • Books
  • Board games
  • Puzzles
  • At-home escape room kits or other activity kits
  • Magazines
  • Yard games
  • Adult coloring books and colored pencils

Put together a basket of these activity ideas. Add in other fun items, such as snacks or cozy items. If the retiree will be spending a lot more time with their grandkids, include activities they can do together.

13. Charitable donation

Does the retiree love to volunteer and support local causes? Donate to the person’s favorite charity in their name for a touching tribute. Ask coworkers to donate if they want to increase the donation you can offer. This retirement gift idea works well because it’s meaningful and it doesn’t take up space or collect dust.

An alternative is to organize a volunteer day on the employee’s last day of work. Have all team members join in. It sends the retiree off on an uplifting note while giving back to the community and allows them to spend time away from the office with coworkers.

14. Modern twist on a watch

Wristwatches are a classic retirement gift option. Modernize this idea by giving your departing employee a smartwatch. It’s a practical option that gives them more than a standard wristwatch. This option is ideal for someone who’s active and likes having the latest technology.

15. Gift cards

With extra time available after retirement, your employee can go out to lunch with friends, head to the spa and enjoy other fun activities. Grab a variety of gift cards for local restaurants and entertainment venues. You can even put the gift cards in a new personalized wallet to round out the gift.

If the retiree is relocating, research the best spots in their new city and pick gift cards for that area. You can do the same if they’re planning a big retirement trip. Stock them up on gift cards for restaurants and attractions for their destination to make the trip more exciting.

16. Party and presentation

Host one last office celebration with your retiring employee by planning a retirement party at the office. Invite the entire company or just the people who worked closely with the retiree, depending on what makes the most sense. Inviting family members can also make the retirement party special.

At the party, say some kind words or share fun memories you have of the retiree over the years. Get the team involved by having each person come up and share a memory or funny story. This is also the perfect time to present any other gifts you have.

Tips for choosing gifts for retired employees

With so many retirement gift ideas, it can be difficult to choose. Here are some tips to make the decision easier:

  • Consider their interests: Instead of using the same retirement gift ideas for every employee, pick something unique for each person. For example, if the retiring employee plans to travel, choose something they can use while traveling.
  • Add personalization: Have the employee’s name or monogram etched onto the gift, or include their years of service with the company. This makes the gift more personal and meaningful.
  • Don’t be afraid to be sentimental: A touching tribute to the retiree can make the gift more memorable. It also shows your employee that you care about them.
  • Watch for clichés: Coffee mugs, plaques and wine glasses are common gifts for the retired and can seem like you didn’t put any thought into choosing the gift.
  • Set a budget: Starting with your gift budget helps you direct your search. Establish a standard retirement gift budget for consistency when people retire.
  • Consider future plans: If your employee plans to downsize significantly after retiring, gifting something large that takes up a lot of room isn’t the best match. Similarly, an employee who is moving to another state might not have time to use gift cards to local stores or tickets to a local sporting event before the move.
  • Avoid gag gifts: Retirement is a huge milestone, so avoid a gag gift that makes light of the situation, even if the retiree is a jokester. Some retirees might be offended. Even if they laugh, they might feel like you don’t really care since you didn’t choose a sincere gift. If you want to give a humorous gift, also include something more sincere.
  • Ask others for gift suggestions: If you don’t know the retiree very well on a personal level, get ideas from people who know them better. A close work friend or the retiree’s spouse could have some gift suggestions.
  • Include a note: No matter what you give the retiree, include a little note with the gift to express your gratitude and wish them well in retirement.

Get team members involved: Let the retiree’s team members take part in planning the retirement gift and celebration. It can be difficult for coworkers to say goodbye, especially on a close-knit team. Helping with the celebration can be meaningful for the remaining employees.

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